Right now, about 3,000 foster children are available for adoption in Michigan.

That comes amid ‘National Adoption Month’. One adoptive father and his family are using this as an opportunity to spread awareness about other kids who still need homes.

Keith Hemsted and his husband have nine children all together. They say it can be a challenge, but they want to help as many kids as they can become part of a family.

At this point in life, Hemsted says he feels like he’s meant to be a dad.

“And I never thought I was ever gonna have kids,” Hemsted said. “Until I met my husband. And then, they opened it up so that gay couples could adopt. His goal is 12, and he’s getting there.”

Hemsted says his husband has one child from a previous marriage, but together they have eight from the foster care system. Within the past year, he’s adopted 8-year-old twins, and a 12- and 7-year-old. As of Friday, they’ve added three foster kids to their family under 5 years old.

“It’s just an experience of a lifetime,” Hemsted said. “We have kids that you know have spina bifida, that have autism, that have emotional impairments that have affected them.”

Even though they aren’t his blood, growing up, he says he learned that connections matter more.

“There’s always a saying that ‘blood is thicker than water.’ Well that’s not true,” Hemsted said. “When I was 5, I was adopted by my father, he was an incredible father growing up.”

November is National Adoption Month, and right now, 10,000 kids in Michigan are in foster care. At least 3,000 need adoptive families.

Adoptive expert Rachel Sykes, executive director at Samaritas, says thousands of kids are aging out of the foster care system.

“Some of the children are ages 0 to all the way up to 23,” Sykes says. “They are in a whole new world because they are removed from the home they are familiar with.”

With thousands of kids in need, Hemsted hopes more people think about adoption.

“Understand that there are challenges,” Hemsted said. “But watching those kids grow and watching the smiles on their faces and knowing that you’re impacting their lives in a huge, huge way.”

If you or anyone you know is interested in learning more about the adoption process, a link to see pictures and bios of children awaiting a forever home can be found here.